New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A-
The all-male undergraduate a cappella group the Yale Spizzwinks(?) might be best known for being the country’s oldest underclassmen group (founded in 1914), or for the distinctive “(?)” that became a formal part of the group’s name, but this year, in honor of their 100th anniversary, the group is commemorating something even more unique: their international outreach.
Three times each year the Spizzwinks(?) pack their bags and head off to explore the world, each trip combining sightseeing with performing and outreach. While the Spizzwinks(?) are not the only Yale a cappella group to tour abroad, they blazed the trail for other groups in creating a formal body to fund outreach and service elements in their travels. In summer 2013 on their tour of Asia, the Spizzwinks(?) spent 4 days working and visiting with students at Myanmar’s first and only music school, Gitameit. This is the group’s 3rd engagement with the school, including sponsoring and planning their choir’s visit to Yale in 2009. Other recent Spizzwinks(?) outreach activities include repeated trips to sing with children from the “City of God” favela in Brazil; a class and performance for children living in South Korea’s SOS Children’s Village; and performing in South Africa at a health clinic, juvenile detention facility, and with a local choir at an after-school program.
“The primary idea around our international outreach is music forming a link between two very different groups of people,” said Nathaniel Graner, ’09, alumnus and officer of the Yale Spizzwinks(?) Alumni Association. “Along with the privileges of being a Yalie and a Spizzwink comes an obligation to serve. The best we can do that is to build bridges with people from other cultures through music.”
The group began their international outreach in 2003 through a unique partnership with the Yale Spizzwinks(?) Alumni Association, formed that year with the express purpose of financially enabling the group to provide musical performances and workshops at no cost to underserved youth in the New Haven area and around the world. One of the goals of the upcoming reunion and 100th anniversary celebration is to show the group’s wider network of alumni what the outreach is all about, and to introduce them to its value.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Spizzwinks(?) will travel throughout the Northeast, to Northern California and New Zealand in the spring, and across Europe in the summer. The Spizzwinks(?) 100th anniversary celebration will be held April 3-6, 2014 in New Haven, CT. For more information, please visit the Spizzwinks(?) website at: http://www.spizzwinks.com/ .
By Leslie Bull